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Humans of the Hilltop: Devin Murphy

Assistant English Professor Devin Murphy teaches creative writing – and goes on adventures on the side. photo by Maddie Gehling
Assistant English Professor Devin Murphy teaches creative writing – and goes on adventures on the side.
photo by Maddie Gehling

College is a time of discovery and figuring out what the future holds, and this soul search can be much harder for some people than others.

Assistant English Professor Devin Murphy is no exception.

The Buffalo native was an undergraduate student at St. Bonaventure University, a small school in western New York, when he discovered his passion for English.

“I was always a reader. I loved sports and reading, and I didn’t know what that meant,” Murphy said. “So when I got to college, it was a real gift to have a couple years of taking all these different classes.”

During his first few years in college, Murphy said he also began to take an interest in writing.

“I was doing my homework, but I was also reading these novels on the side,” Murphy said. “I always knew I kind of wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know what that meant for a long time. Then, eventually, you make a shift where what you admire you aspire to [be].”

After graduating with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, Murphy’s quest to become a writer was still not over. Before his writing career, Murphy took the time to travel.

“I ended up on a boat in Alaska when I was 20 working for a summer, and I realized that … there were these small expedition ships that went to really exotic places, and I kept riding them until they finally hired me,” Murphy said. “I took a job as a deckhand, a bartender, a purser, an assistant hotel manager, a cruise director, and eventually, the expedition leader on these things. So, I got to go all over the planet doing that, I just worked my way up doing these jobs.”

According to Murphy, he thought traveling the world would help his writing, but he realized professional training was more important.

“When I graduated, I bounced around and had a bunch of different jobs,” Murphy said. “Eventually when I was about 27, I went back to graduate school because I wanted to be a writer, and I needed to get better.”

While working on his writing in graduate school at Colorado State Fort Collins, Murphy said he began to find an affinity for teaching.

“When I showed up to graduate school, they said, ‘OK, we’ll pay your tuition, but you’ve got to teach an undergraduate class for us,’ and I had never taught before,” Murphy said. “It was a natural transition. I love teaching. I love everything about it. I was so deeply influenced by my English and writing teachers when I was [in college] that I kind of want to model myself after them.”

After his time at CSU, Murphy went on to receive his doctorate at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was hired at Bradley shortly after. According to Murphy, he became a first-time father two weeks into his first semester teaching on the Hilltop.

“[My hobbies] all fell away when I was hired here because I became a dad right away,” Murphy said. “So now, I have two small kids, and any day now, I’m going to have a third. I’m kind of like Mr. Dad, so free time is hard to come by.”

Despite living the hectic life as a father and a professor, Murphy has still found some time to work on his writing.

“My first novel is out September, and I’ve got a few others on the shelf that I’ve been working on,” Murphy said. “My goal is to finish a book and start a new one; that’s kind of my career goal.”

His novel, “The Boat Runner,” will hit shelves Sept. 7, 2017. Murphy said it’s a World War II novel with some influences from his time spent at sea.

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